when the angel woos the clay


I’m playing chicken with the milestones. I stayed silent in March; St. Paddy’s came and went. I flew overseas in May, to where Mother’s Day was just a plain Sunday in spring. Sun erupted across the Narin strand, the tide was low, and B. and I shucked clothes and ran in naked, in plain view of the golfers on the dunes. That was for her. There was a rainbow that weekend. A raised pint or two to her. A sunset seen.

But mostly it is quiet now, kept close. I find myself retreating further into it, this vault that only I can access. It doesn’t bear discussion anymore. It’s not something to vent or any mystery to understand. Speaking it will never make it shared.

I worried once about remembering enough. About my hold upon the thread of her. Needless. The ripe sting of sadness in the nostrils has abated. And what is left is sad, but now more an ache, and sweeter. In childhood, I chose loneliness over imaginary friends; now I have both. I visit those who loved her too and we make fish tacos and margaritas and follow all her rules (except, perhaps, for the excess and the occasional ugly remark). She’s there. I smirk at her. She’s pleased. Then the vise reminds me she is a mirage. Something in my sternum sinks down down to my solar plexus.

I sold my first book and raised another glass to her, in a music pub she would have loved—brightly lit and full of earnest folks attentive to the tune of Raglan Road. I sold my book and couldn’t tell her, so I kept the good news mostly to myself for two days. In stubborn deference? Or fear—of just how swiftly moves the river? I bring women I love, piecemeal, into the wedding preparations and ablutions. With each one, I empty. With each one, I feel full. So full I think the organs where the human heart is housed—the spleens and livers, ribcage, lungs, the cardiac muscle chamber, deep adrenals, bones—will turn to mush. Erupt. Implode.





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